Saturday, May 11, 2013

Frida and Diego lived here

I wonder if it would strike Frida Kahlo as odd that she has become such an iconic and popular figure?  Overshadowed during her lifetime by her larger (literally!) and much more famous husband Diego Rivera, it wasn't until a 1983 biography by Hayden Herrera was published that she became well known outside of Mexico. Today, her brooding face with its signature bold eyebrows stares out at us from tote bags, coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets. She has become a mixed-up symbol of feminism, Mexican nationalism, sexuality and a kind of voluptuous suffering, all suffused with a kind of retro-glamor beauty that commands attention like a rock star.


In fact, even rock stars love Frida - Madonna is a collector of her works, and punk poet Patti Smith left a poetic tribute in the guestbook at the Museum that was once Kahlo's family home.  The poem is now printed on one of the walls facing the garden.

Kahlo's life was both tragic and rich. Stricken by polio as a child, she later suffered horrific injuries in a bus accident when she was 18. She suffered multiple bone fractures, including her spine, and an iron handrail pierced her abdomen. She spent months in a plaster body cast, and while immobilized, she learned to paint to occupy her time.

Still Life (Round), oil on copper, Frida Kahlo, 1942
Her works are suffused with images of pain, personal torment, and symbolism.She painted over 55 self-portraits that lay bare her heart's deepest feelings about her marriage, her broken body, and her sexuality. Yet she brings her psychic pain to all her work - even this still life presents images that are almost too-intimate symbols of her sexual and physical vulnerability.

The garden at the Frida Kahlo museum
The Museum's permanent collection has preserved Kahlo and Rivera's everyday lives, including the kitchen, dining room and studio where they worked. There is also Kahlo's canopy bed, where she spent the last of her days, before an open door that leads to the tranquil inner garden of their house.

Frida's bed is just beyond the green french doors
The studio, with her wheelchair before the easel

The kitchen
"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you."

 - Frida Kahlo


Deborah said...

Oh my gosh, I would love to visit this place! I love her work, she was such a fascinating person.

Gilly said...

I have just been catching up with all your Mexican adventures and stunning photographs! You have had a wonderful time there - and I think seen things other visitors might have just passed by.

Looking at all your posts has really brightened up a very wet, cold and dreary "spring" afternoon!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Thank you for sharing photos of the home of such an amazing woman -- amazing because of the way she transcended her own struggles to share herself through art.
(I'd probably love her just for the blue walls!)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I can't get over how vibrant the colors of the buildings are. It's no wonder that Frida was able to find solace in the visual arts.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

So wonderful. Thanks for these great posts. You know how much I love your travel writing. (And, of course, I love the kitchen photo!)

smalltownme said...

I like that quote.

knittergran said...

I've been to Diego Rivera's childhood home in Mexico. It's now devoted to the lives and works of both Diego and Frida. I enjoyed it, and I would love to see the home in Mexico City.
The High Museum in Atlanta had an exhibit of works by both artists; the men viewing the exhibit preferred Diego's works. I could not get the men I was with to see the value and passion in Frida's works. Interesting responses.